French Friday’s with Dorie – Its a “Food Revolution!”
Today is Food Revolution Day , a day started by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to encourage all manner of food people around the blogosphere to do something, to do anything, that gets kids interested in eating and cooking good food. As was done last year, the denizens of Doristaville have ditched their methodically planned seasonal calendar of “Around My French Table” recipes and instead allowed anarchy to reign supreme. This week Doristas can choose whichever recipe they want to — as long as some child is involved in its making.
Well this is all said and good except for one thing: I don’t have any children. I really don’t even like children. OK, this isn’t exactly true. I just don’t like your children. Oh before you get all upset please remember that I don’t really even know your children so I’m speaking in very general of terms. Simmer down now, I’m sure your children are lovely. I’m just not a kid person. (Even though I often act like one.)
The exception to this rule is when the children in question share some of my own genetic code — then I’m completely mad for them. Mad. For. Them. I can’t tell you why exactly this is but the whole phenomenon fascinates me to no end. It surely must have something to do with the human being’s evolutionary advantage as a species. Our innate drive to protect and nurture our own family’s genetic code so that it can survive and thrive into future generations.
Your child’s genetic code is of no interest to me if you don’t mind
But when the little darling who carries MY genetic code is around me I go crazy. I can’t stop talking to her, Instagramming her, buying her toys she doesn’t need, letting her crawl on my back to play horsey, and of course, letting her boss me around whenever she feels like it.
“Read me three books now Uncle Trevor!”
And just like that I comply without resistance. Its like she is magic or something. I grovel. I cajole. I roll around on the ground trying to make her laugh. Just this last weekend my niece announced to everyone that she wanted me to wipe her ass after she “made a poop in the potty.” Um, ok, and because I shared her pride in this accomplishment I didn’t even mind all that much. Weird, huh?
How fast do you think I’d leave the room if your kid ever asked me to do the same courtesy.
Yeah, your screaming dirty kids usually just annoy me and make me feel awkward. I don’t want them touching me or asking me any questions. I don’t have much to say to them anyway and I usually end up feeling very awkward when I try…and I do try. I promise you I do. I will take what little confidence I have saved up from my successful niece encounters and do my best to draw on it when your kid is around me. It just never seems to work out. At least not well enough so that I would want one of your kids to cook a chicken with me.
Kids have an inborn ability to know who is there for them anyway so while your kids may annoy me, they are also smart enough to know all about the likes of me.
So when it came to celebrating Food Revolution Day this year I was caught without a kid of my own to celebrate it with. My own niece is just too young right now to be worrying too much about cooking things like gougeres . I suspect that any child who needs help wiping her ass is probably much too young to be making a Sausage Stuffed Cornish Hens anyway. Don’t you think?
And since my cat doesn’t count as my child (at least not in any way I’m prepared to admit publically right now) and since she wasn’t blessed with an opposable thumb I was left alone in my kitchen on Food Revolution Day. Alone to think and contemplate how the heck I was going to celebrate Food Revolution Day without an actual child to inspire.
Sausage Stuffed Cornish Hens
I found a way. This year I’m checking in on Food Revolution Day by giving thought to how nice it will be one day to invite my niece over and cook with her and teach her things I know about cooking and, more importantly, how it can bring people together. Yeah, I may have to bribe her by promising to bake cookies, cupcakes or caramel topped ice cream sundaes — those things her parents won’t let her have at home — but eventually we’ll work our way toward making good, healthy things like these here sausage stuffed cornish hens. I’ll even convince her to include the roasted Brussels Sprouts.
I’m very sure of it.
You see, kids won’t learn about the satisfaction that cooking good food can bring unless we show it to them up close. This means we have to invite them into the kitchen with us whenever we get the chance. This way they can share in the satisfaction we get and they can experience first hand how cooking with other people can be just as nourishing as the food itself.
One of the very first things my mother ever cooked with me was Cornish Hens. No, not this recipe but another recipe just as simple to put together. Perhaps she knew a great way to get my interest would be to start off with hens that are curiously single-serving in size.
What are Cornish Hens anyway? Does anyone really know? What does a cornish hen looks when it is alive? Is it even a thing?
I suppose I have a few years left to figure all of this out before I’m asked by my niece. OK, and by her friend because I’m sure that in a few more years I’ll be much better with the whole kid thing and when my niece wants to invite your kid over to cook with us I’ll be be ok with kids by then.
Cooking is about bringing people together anyway, right?
This is what you will need:
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts. Cleaned and root end trimmed if necessary.
- 2 Cornish Hens, organic. (Remove giblets if lucky enough to get them! Save these for stock.)
- 3 T Olive Oil
- 2 T Unsalted Butter
- 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings if necessary.)
- 1 slice stale bread (leave crusts on if you wish)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 T minced curly parsley
- 1/2 cup white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
This is how you make it:
- Preheat the oven to 425 and center a rack. Pour 1 T oil in an oven-ready skillet or roasting pan large enough to hold the two birds. (I used two cast iron skillets.)
- Put the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and add the olive oil and toss. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and stir around the pan for one minute until just starting to soften. Add the sausage and cook for 2 minutes using a spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces as it cooks.
- Remove sausage from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the bread pieces, beaten egg, parsley and season with salt and pepper. (Stuffing can be made one day in advance and stored in an airtight container until ready to use.)
- Salt and pepper the birds and spoon the stuffing into their cavities being careful not to make them too tight. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine if you wish. Rub the hens lightly with a teaspoon of olive oil or a pat of room temperature butter and then season generously with salt and pepper.
- Put the birds into the skillet or roasting pan and add the Brussels sprouts around each bird.
- Roast the birds for 40 minutes or until the juices run clear when you pierce with a sharp knife at the leg joint.
- After 30 minutes check on the Brussels sprouts for doneness. If they poke through easily with a toothpick they are done. You can either remove them to a bowl covered with foil to wait for the bird or you can do what I do and give them a stir and let them continue to cook until they are dark and caramelized.
- When the hens are done remove them from the oven. If the Brussels sprouts are still in the pan remove them as well. Cover the birds with foil.
- Pour off the fat from the skillets and put the pan over medium-high heat. When it is hot and what little fat is left starts to bubble add the wine and let it cook down by one half. Remove the pan and add 1 tablespoon of butter.
- You may serve the hens whole if they are small for two servings or split them in half with a very sharp kitchen knife. Serve on plates with the Brussels sprouts and pour a spoonful of the pan sauce over everything.